IN THE NEWS

Jan 7, 2023
Counsel to Counsel Podcast

On Social Justice and Defending American Democracy

Lauren Stiller Rikleen, our Executive Director joins this podcast to speak on “Her Honor – Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges,” along with the work being undertaken by Lawyers Defending Democracy. The podcast's host, Stephen Seckler, is an attorney interested in the ideas shaping the legal industry and attorneys who have done interesting and sometimes unconventional things with their careers.

Jan 5, 2023
The Fulcrum

Universities cannot be bystanders in these troubled times

Lauren Stiller Rikleen, our Executive Director and the editor of “Her Honor – Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges” writes for The Fulcrum advocating for leaders in academia to speak out with moral clarity in times of crisis. The article argues, "academic principles of free expression should not prevent a university from speaking with unequivocal clarity in matters of moral imperative. … Indeed, the highest calling of higher education should be the ability to both model courageous behavior and encourage civil discourse in ways that can serve as conflict-resolution lessons throughout life."

Dec 16, 2023
The Hill

Watchdog groups push for disbarment of ex-Trump attorney Jenna Ellis over Georgia charges

Watchdog groups called for former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis’s disbarment in a letter Friday.

“We, together with the additional signatories below, write to urge the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC) to promptly commence a formal disciplinary proceeding against Jenna Ellis seeking her disbarment in light of her recent guilty plea to a felony in Georgia,” the letter from Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD) and Stand United Democracy Center reads.

featured press
Dec 15, 2023
Devner Post

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis faces Colorado disbarment complaint following guilty plea

States United Democracy Center and Lawyers Defending American Democracy said they filed the complaint with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, which oversees the practice of law in Colorado. States United Democracy Center filed a previous complaint against Ellis in May 2022 that led to a public censure for her conduct.

Dec 11, 2023
Verdict

Sandra Day O’Connor’s Legacy: A Beacon of Judicial Restraint and Independence in the Supreme Court

Justice O’Connor has secured her legacy as an independent Justice who respected precedent and had an instinctive understanding of where the Court should seek common ground. As public trust and confidence in the Supreme Court diminish with each radical decision, one can only hope it is not too late for the lessons of her legacy to be learned and adopted.

Dec 7, 2023
Salon

OPINION: A dictator on "day one": The time to push back on Trump is now

"Those who believe in a constitutional republic governed by the rule of law need not wait until election day to teach Trump that in America, dictatorship is not what power can do. Public response can help sidetrack a man who would be king, on “day one” and beyond."

Oct 15, 2023
The Journal of the DuPage County Bar Association

An Inflection Point for the Legal Profession

"Even the strongest democracy can be breached by unchallenged assaults."

In a seminal piece for the organization, LDAD's Executive Director Lauren Stiller Rikleen calls on lawyers to bridge typical partisan divides and emerge from this inflection point in history with our democracy intact. 

Sept 6, 2023
Bloomberg Law

We Can’t Step Backwards on Progress Toward Colorblind Justice

Former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Peggy Quince reflects on her journey toward a legal career and the American promise that the judiciary be fair and impartial.

"For those of us who have lived through segregation and overt racism, what is happening in today’s political environment is living life in flashback."

Aug 16, 2023
Washington Post

The ‘brains’ behind fake Trump electors was once a liberal Democrat

About 10 days after his affiliation with the Napoli firm was announced internally, a group called Lawyers Defending American Democracy filed an ethics complaint against him in New York, asking a state grievance committee to investigate his conduct and “impose appropriate sanctions.” Tribe was among dozens of high-profile legal figures who signed the complaint.

July 7, 2023
Bloomberg Law

Moore v. Harper Affirms American Democracy and Rule of Law

There’s a reason that Moore v. Harper, the independent state legislature theory case, generated almost 70 amicus briefs in the US Supreme Court: it presented a profound threat to our democracy and the rule of law.

Moore is a victory for free and fair American elections and the rule of law over partisan politics. It’s also a victory for principled constitutional interpretation and the cohesiveness of the Supreme Court.

June 19, 2023
USA Today

Should Trump-allied lawyers be punished for 2020 election suits? The jury is still out.

Lauren Stiller Rikleen, executive director of the group Lawyers Defending American Democracy, said the bar associations and disciplinary boards set up in the states historically have handled complaints from clients over money and representation. “For us it’s about maintaining trust in the legal profession,” said Rikleen. “You can’t have trust in the legal system if attorneys can lie in open court without being held accountable.”

May 23, 2023
Bloomberg Law

DeSantis’s War on ‘Woke’ Dooms History to Repeat

Former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Peggy A. Quince writes that Gov. Ron DeSantis has hijacked the terms “woke” and “critical race theory” for political purposes, when these terms are meant to train our focus on our nation’s full history, including issues that have plagued people of color.

May 18, 2023
Law360

Texas Attorneys Back Bar's Disciplinary Action Against State AG

The State Bar of Texas' ethics lawsuit against Lone Star State Attorney General Ken Paxton after his attempt to challenge the 2020 presidential election results now has the support of 16 Texas attorneys and the nonpartisan action group Lawyers Defending American Democracy, who filed an amicus brief supporting the State Bar's Commission for Lawyer Discipline.

Apr 13, 2023
Boston Globe

The Supreme Court needs a code of ethics. Here's one to consider.

Using the rules applicable to all other federal judges as a baseline, our organizations’ proposed code includes: clear guidelines for recusal; prohibitions against specific kinds of conduct that create an appearance of impartiality; more rigorous obligations for disclosure; and standards for transparent decision-making.

Mar 24, 2023
Bloomberg Law

Unjust Laws and Court Decisions Overshadow Women’s History Month

Looking back on this Women’s History Month, there still isn’t much opportunity to celebrate. Women around the country face an onslaught of laws and court decisions that reduce or eliminate rights that prior generations fought hard to achieve. If anything, this month should have served as a call to action.

Mar 22, 2023
ABA

ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice: Chair Chat with Lauren Stiller Rikleen

ABA Section Chair Juan R. Thomas and Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership President & Founder and Lawyers Defending American Democracy Executive Director Lauren Stiller Rikleen discuss 'Her Honor – Stories of Challenge and Triumph from Women Judges' and Women’s History Month.

Mar 14, 2023
MSNBC

The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell

Using excerpts from LDAD’s ethics complaint as the basis for discussion, Lawrence O’Donnell and his guests, Professor Stephen Gillers and attorney Neal Katyal, engaged in a substantive and thoughtful conversation that clearly explained why the allegations against Mr. Passantino matter to the rule of law. The discussion of LDAD’s ethics complaint begins at 5:53 into the segment.

Mar 13, 2023
New York Sun

Proposed Ethics Code for Supreme Court Escalates Campaign To Bind the Justices

The release of a “Model Code of Conduct for U.S. Supreme Court Justices” by two good-government groups — Project for Government Oversight and Lawyers Defending Democracy — brings into sharp focus the growing effort to regulate the justices, a push that the Nine has thus far resisted.

Mar 13, 2023
Washington Examiner

Clarence and Ginni Thomas could be sidelined under Supreme Court 'model' ethics code

A proposal by outside interest groups for the Supreme Court to adopt a new "model" ethics code could thrust Justice Clarence Thomas and his spouse, Ginni, further into the political limelight. The proposed guidelines from so-called independent government watchdogs Project on Government Oversight and LDAD would put in place "more stringent guidelines for recusal." 
 

Mar 6, 2023
Newsweek

Trump Attorney Could Face Disbarment Over Cassidy Hutchinson Testimony

A group of three dozen attorneys affiliated with the center-left organization Lawyers Defending American Democracy filed a complaint with the Washington, D.C., bar on Monday, accusing Stefan Passantino of pressuring Cassidy Hutchinson to provide false testimony to members of Congress.

Mar 6, 2023
Salon

Ex-Trump ethics lawyer may face disbarment for allegedly trying to influence Hutchinson testimony

Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, provided damning information during the House committees January 6 probe and revealed that her previous lawyer, Stefan Passantino, had tried to influence her testimony and encouraged her to withhold information from the committee.

Mar 6, 2023
Law360

Fmr. Bar Heads Want Ex-WH Atty Disbarred Over Jan. 6 Probe

A group of past District of Columbia and American Bar Association presidents on Monday joined calls for the disbarment of former Trump White House attorney accused of urging a staffer to lie to Congress.

Mar 6, 2023
ABA Journal

First lawyer who advised Jan. 6 witness Cassidy Hutchinson should face ethics probe, group tells regulators

Hutchinson had testified that Passantino, a former lawyer in the White House counsel’s office, told her to downplay her knowledge of events before the attack and told her that: “The less you remember, the better,” according to prior coverage by Reuters, which obtained a transcript of the testimony.

Mar 6, 2023
New York Times

Group Seeks Disbarment of a Trump-Aligned Lawyer for a Key Jan. 6 Witness

Prominent lawyers filed a scathing ethics complaint against Stefan Passantino, who represented Cassidy Hutchinson in the early stages of the House committee’s investigation.

 

Nov 8, 2022
Bloomberg Law

Federalist Society’s Influence on Courts Is Bad for Democracy

Peggy Quince and Lauren Stiller Rikleen of Lawyers Defending American Democracy examine the Federalist Society’s influence over state and federal judicial selection. They say originalist judges are problematic for democracy by looking to what the framers would have done.

Oct 12, 2022
New York Times

Lawyers Group Asks Court to Punish an Author of Trump Electors Scheme

An ethics complaint in New York against Kenneth Chesebro is the latest example of legal troubles for lawyers who helped Donald J. Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.

Oct 12, 2022
Reuters

Lawyer group says Trump attorney broke ethics rules in fake elector plan

A group of prominent attorneys on Wednesday asked attorney regulators in New York to investigate lawyer Kenneth Chesebro in connection with former U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 electoral loss to Joe Biden.

Aug 26, 2022
USA Today

Will Pentagon whistleblower Yevgeny Vindman retire as colonel?

Supporters of Army Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman are urging the White House to allow the Pentagon whistleblower to retire at his current rank when he retires Wednesday, acknowledging unfair treatment which he has received in recent years.

Aug 26, 2022
Military Times

Will Pentagon whistleblower Yevgeny Vindman retire as a colonel?

Both Vindman brothers have become politically polarizing figures since Trump’s first impeachment trial, where the former president was ultimately acquitted of charges that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2019 to help with political attacks against Biden in exchange for foreign aid.

Aug 26, 2022
The Hill

Biden faces calls to let Vindman twin retire as colonel

President Biden is facing calls to allow Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman, who alongside his twin brother Alexander blew the whistle on former President Trump’s July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to retire with the title of colonel. 

Aug 23, 2022
Washington Post

Opinion: Liz Cheney is a smart, brave Republican

Gary Ratner, LDAD's co-founder, authors an opinion piece repudiating Republican Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini assertion that Liz Cheney is not "smart" for speaking out against former president Donald Trump’s Big Lie.

Aug 23, 2022
Houston Chronicle

Paxton is pushing for dismissal of bar lawsuit

Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will argue Wednesday in court that a judge should drop a disciplinary case filed against him by the State Bar of Texas alleging he knowingly lied and attempted to mislead the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the 2020 election results.

Aug 9, 2022
National Law Journal

Justice Alito’s Hypocrisy

Religious liberty means that all religions are able to thrive in harmony. It does not mean that a majority of SCOTUS justices who share a religion should be able to demand that other religions subjugate their own beliefs to the majority’s will.

July 22, 2022
CNN